385 Nationalism and Sport

385 Nationalism and Sport


I’ve spent fifteen years, not supporting
the English football team. Which is curious because i’m English and
a football supporter. Um, and_ which is such an unusual standpoint. That my friends, who are used anyway to me
having unusual and radical ideas, think it’s a joke. They think i’m saying it to be provocative
and to wind them up. Simply because no one ever suggests to anybody
they should not, support the, the English football team. Now from where i’m standing that’s a good
reason to not do it in the first place. Because you have an idea that you can’t
even challenge. That’s a fairly, totalitarian thing in the
first place. And our first inclination should be to say,
‘well let’s do the opposite and see what happens. ‘Now what i think happens in practice, is
that, sh- if we take for granted that nationalism is a bad thing. That it’s a cause of, many wars. That it’s, one of the nastiest political
ideas, uh, to have ever entered our consciousness. And it’s extremely been dangerous this century. Then, we should be thinking very carefully
about, waving flags and supporting our side, when we have a sport in competition. Which does, after all pit one nation against
the other. With the intention of our nation beating their
nation. And with their nation trying to beat our nation. Yugoslavia’s been drawn against Croatia
in the same, group of the European football championships. Um, i had a friend who was going to go before
the war broke out in Yugoslavia recently. Um, that strikes me as a game that, if played
is highly unlikely to result in, in improved relations between Yugoslavia and Croatia. There have been, games played_ there was a
game played between Iran and the United States recently, that took on all sorts of… Meanings that were, extraneous to the game
of football. Simply because, Iran has effectively been
at a cold war for with the United States for twenty years. And the nature of a football competition has
to be to make those things worse rather than to make them better. It doesn’t necessarily make them worse in
the sense that people are_ actually go to the games. Or people who actually meet at world cups. Or, you know, people who have a shared interest
in football from the different countries. Are necessarily going to fight over it. Because they’re not, directly competing. But it’s highly unlikely that anybody who’s
ever seen England play West Germany or later Germany, on television. And has then gone round the pubs of England
afterwards. Has felt that, that game has helped improve
Eng- English people’s understandings of Germany_ people. And no doubt if you were to go around in Germany
and do the same thing, the same would be the case. And so i find the only way to deal with it
is to say, ‘i hope England lose. ‘ Cause apart from anything else, that does
at least raise the question of, ‘is it a good i- idea for us to do this all the time. ‘ Some people say it doesn’t matter very
much. That, you know it’s only a football game
and it’ll wear off by the morning anyway. And so, while it might be true that football,
um, increases nationalism, and supports nationalism it doesn’t do so very much. The problem is that, in this country at least,
there are very few ways apart from football, that we actually imagine ourselves as a nation,
these days anyway. The empire has gone. There’s not a permanent war. The monarchy is in decline. And therefore those symbols that you associate
with England and with us, pledging to be England. And us identifying with England. Tend to have largely fallen apart. Whereas once, every couple of months, sometimes
more often, the nation clusters round its television sets to, collectively and without
opposition, cheer on eleven people dressed in white shirts, who identify themselves with
England. Therefore, far from being unimportant. Football is probably the single most important
symbol, in the promotion of nationalism, that we have in this country. If you think nationalism is a bad idea. And you’re a football supporter. I think you want to ask yourself whether that’s
something you want to join in with, or is it something that you want to get away from. And for fifteen years i’ve not been supporting
the England football team. Learn And Test Your Grammar – Click here

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